Support Plus foots a spin-off

`Get ’em while they’re young” is the marketing philosophy that has driven countless companies over the years. It’s also the strategy behind the footwear spin-off of “aids for better living” cataloger Support Plus. In this case, though, “young” is a comparative term; the target customers of the All About Feet spin-off catalog are 50-55 years old.

Of course, that’s a lot younger than the Support Plus customer, whose median age is 67. While the core Support Plus title sells hearing aids, garter belts, and other products designed to enhance the quality of life for seniors, the new 48-page All About Feet catalog sells only shoes and other foot products. “We wanted to get to the customer younger” and offer them a different type of product, says Edward Janos, cofounder/president of the $10 million Support Plus.

The first edition of All About Feet dropped in September. Two-thirds of the 900,000 catalogs mailed went to prospect names from co-op database proprietor Abacus; the remainder went to buyers from Support Plus’s 370,000-name house file.

Not your grandma’s shoes

Though the new book’s footwear is designed for older adults who may already have circulatory problems, these aren’t the clunky orthopedic shoes of old. Janos has been working with sneaker manufacturers New Balance and Drew Shoe Co. to develop more stylish yet still comfortable shoes that appeal to its not-yet-ready-for-retirement customer base.

Janos credits the sleeker styling of his wares and the broad selection with All About Feet’s success. Since September, the new book has reaped sales of more than $1 million. The average order size is $94 – appreciably higher than the $56 average order from the core Support Plus book. “Many retailers simply do not carry the styles and breadth of merchandise that we do,” Janos says.

For the next All About Feet mailing, due to drop in the spring, Medfield, MA-based Support Plus will boost the page count to 64 pages, making the spin-off larger than the 48-page core catalog. – MDF

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